24 AUGUST 2012

“Media Watch Dog on Fridays…is a sort of popular read in the Crikey office”

Crikey’s Andrew Crook on ABC 2 News Breakfast, 24 September 2010.

“Gerard Henderson is big enough to take care of himself, but that doesn’t stop us worrying about him from time to time.

Lately it’s Hendo’s tendency to self-harm that has us losing sleep.

For example, peruse the correspondence he’s published in his latest Media Watch Dog blog…..There’s a part of us that just wants to ask:

“Hendo, are you OK?”

– James Jeffrey’s “Strewth!” column, The Australian, 8 November 2010.

“I realise this makes me practically retarded, but until five minutes ago

I thought Nancy was Gerard Henderson”s wife, not his dog.”

– Byronbache via Twitter, Monday 7 February 2011

“Before going further can you write to confirm that these emails

are private correspondence and not for publication” – ABC News Radio’s

Marius Benson, 11 March 2011. He did go further – see MWD Issue 86.

Media Watch Dog – “disgraceful”, “sick”

– Professor Robert Manne, April Fool’s Day 2011.

“Go to the Sydney Institute Media Watch Dog website to marvel at [its] work” 

– Mark Latham The Spectator Australia 11 June 2011.

“Henderson…What a pompous, pretentious turd you are.”

– Mike Carlton, Saturday 13 August 2011 (after lunch)

“We’d better be careful what we say, just in case Gerard’s offsider pooch Nancy is keeping an eye on us for his delightfully earnest Media Watch Dog”

– Tom Cowie of The Power Index, Crikey 20 January 2012

“What a haughty flapping half-arsed buffoon he [Henderson] is”

– Bob Ellis on his Table Talk blog, 8 May 2012 (before breakfast)

“Gerard [Henderson] is a complete f-ckwit”

– Malcolm Farr, via Twitter, 29 June 2012 (circa pre-dinner drinks)

Stop Press: Call For Sir Gerard Brennan to be Censored; Leigh Sales Advocacy of Public Accuracy Has Its Limits

MWD Exclusive: Mike Carlton Abuses Reader in German & English

Nancy’s Pick-of-the-Week: La Trobe VC Misses Big Story

Can You Bear It? Mike Seccombe, Bob Ellis and Waleed Aly

Maurice Newman Segment: Everyone Agrees With Everyone Else on The World Today; 7.30; The Law Report & Richard Glover’s Drive

The Thought of Mark Latham – Or How to Slander Your Opponents on Sky News

● A Fran Kelly Moment or Two: The ABC’s “Activist” Bags Tony Abbott Twice

Correspondence : With A Little Help From Jack Waterford & Geoffrey Luck


▪ News Breakfast Commentator Objects To News

MWD is a dedicated follower of the ABC 1 News Breakfast “Newspapers” segment.   Especially when a commentator just states what should – or should not – be in the news rather than what is the news.

And so it came to pass this morning when Mohammed El-Leissy from the Islamic Council of Australia rocked up to the ABC studio in Southbank.  He expressed interest in a small story on Page 8 of The Australian today titled “Sharia ‘undermines our multiculturalism’” by Nicola Berkovic.  This was the report of the Annual Hal Wooten Lecture delivered by Sir Gerard Brennan, the former Chief Justice of the High Court, at the University of NSW Law School last night.

Sir Gerard is no rabid right-winger and his position that “freedom must be respected and protected, but that does not mean that Islamic sharia law should have the force of law in this country” was both moderate and thoughtful.

However, Mohammed El-Leissy was not impressed.  He told News Breakfast viewers Sir Gerard Brennan’s speech was “simple” and The Australian’s report of his talk “quite out of place”.  Apparently all would have been well if the former Chief Justice’s views had been spiked. That’s the News Breakfast news for today.

▪  Leigh Sales Truth-Syrup : But Only For Non-Journalists

MWD was just so impressed with Leigh Sales’ aggressive  interview with Opposition leader Tony Abbott on Wednesday. [Why do leading Liberals and Nationals accept invitations to appear on 7.30? I wonder – Ed]

Ms Sales accused the Liberal Party leader of being “pretty loose with the truth” and “once again being a little loose with the facts”.  There were similar refrains including a leading question to Mr Abbott which was as follows: “Are you absolutely scrupulous about making sure what you say in public is accurate?”

Just after Leigh Sales made this public commitment to truth the following exchange took place:

Tony Abbott : But look, this isn”t the main game for us. The main game for us are the cost of living pressures that this government has inflicted on the Australian public. It”s not really –

Leigh Sales : Well sure, but a string of your – I”m sorry to interrupt, but a string of your frontbench have come out on this Slater & Gordon issue so I”m just wondering what are the questions that you want answered?

Certainly Leigh Sales did not look sorry when she interrupted the Liberal Party leader.  An “absolutely scrupulous” 7.30 presenter would have used such words as : “I need to interrupt” or “I want to interrupt” or “My producer requires that I interrupt”.

MWD has contacted Ms Sales about this issue – so far, alas, without response.  Some journalists believe that only journalists should ask questions. Stay tuned.


In his Sydney Morning Herald column last Saturday, Mike Carlton used a German expression to criticise the South African-born Liberal MP Dennis Jensen.

This led to the following exchange between a Herald reader and Mike Carlton – partly in English and partly in German. Here it is with the translation – kindly provided by a dedicated MWD reader.

Herald Reader to Mike Carlton – 18 August 2012

Poser.  Or poseur, I should say.  Sprinkling your bile with a few French and German phrases is typical of the inflated peacock that resides within the Carlton persona. Can you speak German?  If so I challenge you to reply in German und dann kann ich dir ein zuruck auf der Schnauze geben [and then I can smack you back on your gob.] Get off the pages, you old hack.  You have done your dash.

Mike Carlton to Herald Reader – 19 August 2012

Sprich nicht mit mir, du verrückter Mann !  Küss mein Arsch ! [Don’t talk to me you mad man! Kiss my arse!]

Herald Reader to Mike Carlton – 19 August 2012

Wie lange hat das gedauert?  Lech mich am Arsch wird besser.  Echt! [How long did that take? Lick my arse will be better. Really!]

Mike Carlton to Herald Reader – 20 August 2012

I think you mean “leck” [“lick”], you fuck-wit.  What a tragic little try-hard nobody you must be.

Herald Reader to Mike Carlton – 20 August 2012

Well there”s the trumpeting arrogance of your celebrity status Mr Carlton.  Admittedly my version is not your grand Hoch Deutsch [High German (i.e. Standard German)] rather the “lech” hails from a nieder sachsisches [Low Saxon] dialect spoken around Duren (zwischen [between] Aachen und Koln) where I spent years living and working.

Translator’s Note: The Herald reader uses more idiomatic but colloquial German with incorrect grammar. Mike Carlton’s German is clearly the result of studying German at school.

And here’s Nancy’s note:

Mike Carlton would be well advised not to use schoolboy German in public.  It’s just too embarrassing.  Mr Carlton should voice his simple minded insults in his schoolboy English.



What a stunning performance by Professor John Dewar on the “Newspapers” segment of the ABC 1 News Breakfast program last Monday.  Moreover, it was great to see the Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University (“Proudly One of Australia’s Top 500 Big Polluters”) in the ABC’s Southbank studio so early in the morning.  What a fine example was set for La Trobe Uni. students.

It’s quite a commitment to do the News Breakfast “Newspapers” gig, which airs about 6.45 am. Commentators are required to arrive at the ABC Southbank studios in Melbourne at 6 am and they depart around 7 am.  The remuneration is zip.  Absolutely zip  – except that taxi expenses are covered. This means that the gig appeals to media tarts who are prepared to perform for free before the cock crows – so to speak.  It also appeals to those who rise early for other reasons. For example, last Tuesday Dr (for a doctor he is) Scott Burchill again dropped into the Southbank studio on his way to the tip. Well,  he looked dressed for a morning at the tip. It seems that Dr Burchill waits until he has a wagon load of waste to be dumped and then asks News Breakfast if it’s okay to do the Newspapers commentary on his way to dump the load.

MWD understands that Professor Dewar lives out Bundoora way.  According to Nancy’s calculations, the La Trobe University vice-chancellor would have had to get out of his pyjamas at around 4.45 am on Monday with the view to a 5.30 am departure for an on-time Southbank arrival at 6 am.  Quite a commitment, to be sure.  Then he had to glance through the newspapers and pick the big stories of the day. [Don’t be too tough. Sometimes Dr Burchill looks like he is still in his pyjamas.]

Your man Dewar is an academic lawyer by training who became a university administrator. So, just what does he know about news in general and newspapers in particular?  You be the judge.  Let’s go to the transcript for the News Breakfast “Newspapers” segment on Monday 20 August 2012:

Karina Carvalho: Well, for a look at the national newspapers this morning we’re joined by the Vice Chancellor of La Trobe University, Professor John Dewar.  Good morning.

John Dewar: Good morning.

Karina Carvalho: I”m going to start with the story in The Age following up on the interview that Paul Kelly did with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday morning.

John Dewar: Yes, well, this is a story that began life on Saturday morning, I think,  in The Australian, acquired a lot of oxygen yesterday morning, as you say, with the interview the Prime Minister did with Paul Kelly. But, now there’s signs that it’s running out of steam.  And it just shows how rapid the media cycle is these days, that a story can grow, leaven, nearly die by Monday morning. Because, what the law firm is saying now, Slater & Gordon, where the Prime Minister worked before entering politics, is that essentially her account of events is basically true. So, it’s hard to see now where this story might go unless there’s some additional fact or piece of information that will come from somewhere other than the law firm.

Michael Rowland : And that was a view put forward very, very strongly indeed by the Prime Minister in that interview on Sky yesterday –

John Dewar: Yes.

Michael Rowland :  – basically urging Paul Kelly to come forward with any allegations that he had.

John Dewar: Yes, which he was very careful not to do.

Michael Rowland : Yeah. Yes.

John Dewar: So, it’s hard to see where this goes now, but 48 hours is a very long time in politics.

Michael Rowland: It is indeed.

Yes, indeed.  Forget for the moment the fact that Michael Rowland essentially agreed with John Dewar who essentially agreed with Karina Carvalho who essentially agreed with John Dewar who essentially agreed with himself. [That’s enough. Doesn’t this stuff usually go in your Maurice Newman segment? – Ed].

What is important is John Dewar’s news sense.  According to the La Trobe University vice-chancellor, the story involving Julia Gillard, Slater & Gordon and the creation of the AWU Workplace Reform Association (without a file) was “running out of steam” by 6.45 am on Monday morning.  On the contrary, fed by leaks from former Slater & Gordon partners, and no doubt inspired by Gillard’s opponents within the Labor Caucus, the story grew as The Australian produced fresh evidentiary material on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  In time, the likes of Fairfax Media journalists Jennifer Hewitt, Geoff Kitney, Lenore Taylor and Laura Tingle expressed the view that the Prime Minister should clarify her role in the controversy.  Then, yesterday, Julia Gillard felt the need to give a long media conference in Canberra answering questions for around one hour.  It was one of the most memorable prime ministerial press conferences in years.

It seems that Professor Dewar – based in the groves of the (Bundoora) academy, as he is – is unaware that the issue of the misuse of trade union funds is big news. Especially if the likes of the Prime Minister and some other Cabinet members are involved in the saga, however indirectly.


▪ Mike Seccombe – On How Private Schools (allegedly) Make Us Dumber And More Besides

It’s great to see leftist journalist Mike Seccombe back Down Under after a stint in North America.  The former Sydney Morning Herald journalist is currently working for green entrepreneur Graeme Wood’s online publicationThe Global Mail.

Mr Seccombe has really made a splash of late on Insiders.  On 5 August 2012, he described certain unnamed billionaires – obviously Twiggy Forrest, Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart – as “not very sympathetic characters” and “not particularly admirable human beings”. No evidence was advanced to support this assertion.  It is understood that both Mr Forrest and Mr Palmer provide financial support for indigenous causes. Seccombe also referred to Tony Abbott’s policy on Chinese investment in Australia as “dreadfully xenophobic”. No need for further discussion, apparently.

Then, on Insiders last Sunday, Seccombe described the allegations made by the two left-wing female activists against Julian Assange as “a bit of a put up job” – a “set up to get Assange at the end of the day”. The allegation is that the young women who have made the allegations of sexual assault against Assange are part of some giant CIA conspiracy . Really.

Later Seccombe asserted that an asylum seeker who arrives by plane and says “I’m claiming asylum” gets to stay in the community while his/her status is determined and is “not punished in the same way as the poor unfortunates who arrive by boat”.  This statement is incorrect. Then, at the end of Insiders, Mike Seccombe declared : “Private schools make us dumber.”

Can you bear it?

Bob Ellis Predicts Assange Murder

The False Prophet of Palm Beach is at it again.  On his Bob Ellis Table Talk blog on 16 August 2012, the superannuated seer wrote:

The Lee Harvey Oswald Moment of Julian Assange approaches apace as the SAS plans to storm the [Ecuadorian] Embassy [in London] and inadvertently kill him as he resists arrest.  I predicted this two months ago.

Needless to say, Bob Ellis’ prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. Can you bear it?  [Can you wait? – Ed].

▪ Waleed Aly Brands Tony Abbott A Hypocrite (Without Evidence)

Waleed Aly, the presenter of ABC RN Drive program, popped up on The Project on  Channel 10 last Friday.  Mr (for a Doctor he aims to become) Aly joined in the familiar ABC presenter trait of Tony Abbott bashing.  Aly simply accepted the assertion of Independent MP and Coalition hater Tony Windsor that Tony Abbott had agreed to introduce a carbon tax if Mr Windsor had supported the formation of an Abbott-led minority government in 2010.

Tony Windsor has not supported this undocumented assertion with any evidence.  Yet Waleed Aly believes Windsor.  This is his (somewhat garbled) comment on The Project on 17 August 2012:

Waleed Aly: Tony Windsor is getting really frustrated because he’s hearing one Tony Abbott in private – and then another one who’s opposing everything that he was prepared to support in private. It’s the hypocrisy he’s driving at.

The fact is that Tony Abbott never agreed to implement a carbon tax. So here is Waleed Aly, a part-time Monash University academic, accepting an agitated Tony Windsor’s claim at face value and, on the basis of it, accusing Tony Abbott of hypocrisy. Once upon a time, academics were expected to support their arguments with evidence. Can you bear it?


Due to unprecedented demand, the Maurice Newman Segment gets another run this week.  As MWD readers will know, this (hugely popular) segment is devoted to former ABC chairman Maurice Newman’s suggestion that a certain “group think” might be prevalent at the ABC – and to ABC 1 Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ certainty that no such phenomenon is extant within the public broadcaster. See MWD passim.

The World Today At One On Asylum Seekers

On The World Today last Friday, Ashley Hall reported on Australian politics following the Gillard government’s acceptance of the report prepared by the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers.

Ms Hall invited three guests on to the program. Namely lawyer and refugee advocate David Manne, psychiatrist and refugee advocate Louise Newman and freelance worker and Afghan refugee Abdul Karim Hekmat.  Needless to say, David Manne essentially agreed with Louise Newman who essentially agreed with Abdul Karim Hekmat who essentially agreed with David Manne.  The World Today could not find one commentator in the whole of Australia who would support Labor’s policy on asylum seekers – which is essentially supported by the Coalition.  Not one.

▪  7.30 At One On Funding For Government Schools

On 7.30 last Monday, Tracy Bowden covered the response to the Gonski Report on school education.  This followed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s comment earlier in the day that her government would ensure that all students receive the same kind of funding irrespective of whether they attend government  or non-government schools.

In a report that clearly favoured the government school sector, Tracy Bowden interviewed Punchbowl Boys’ High School principal Jihad Dib who essentially agreed with Year 12 student Muhamed Allem who essentially agreed with former Western Australian Labor premier Carmen Lawrence who essentially agreed with Clayton Primary School principal Rukshana Verzijl who essentially agreed with Australian National University academic Glenn Withers who essentially agreed with Australian Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos who essentially agreed with everyone whom Tracy Bowden had interviewed before him.  Not one person could be found to present a view with respect to moderate fee non-government schools. Not one.

At the end of this segment 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales interviewed academic Richard Teese (from Melbourne University’s Centre for Research of Education Systems). He joined the mantra in essentially supporting government schools.

The Law Report At One On Children In Protection

Last Tuesday’s The Law Report was devoted to the issue of unaccompanied children asylum seekers.  Presenter Anita Barraud essentially agreed with Professor Mary Crook who essentially agreed with Professor Mary Anne Kenny who essentially agreed with Anita Barraud.

▪ Richard Glover’s Drive Program On The MRRT And The Carbon Tax

“The Journos Forum” on 702 yesterday starred Mike Seccombe and Ian McPhedran and Mia Freedman.  Mike agreed with Ian who agreed with Mia that Tony Abbott’s comment that the Mineral Resource Rent Tax and the carbon tax were factors in making Australia less attractive for mineral investment – including the now stalled Olympic Dam project in South Australia – was hopelessly wrong.

According to Mike, Abbott was “wrong quite frankly”.  According to Ian, Abbott was attempting a “total scam and talking nonsense”.  According to Mia, Abbott’s approach was a “disaster”.  No other view was  heard.

All this sounds like a group-think to MWD.

The Maurice Newman Segment Score-Board: An Update

Maurice Newman:  7

Jonathan Holmes: Zip

[Gee. This supports your constant refrain that a greater diversity of views is heard on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News than on the taxpayer funded public broadcaster in Australia – Ed].


MWD is sympathetic, very sympathetic, to Mark Latham’s current fate.  The failed Labor leader describes himself as a “house husband” and has to eke out an existence on his taxpayer superannuation payout of a mere $78,000 a year (fully indexed) –  a largesse which Mr Latham successfully denied to all MP’s elected immediately after his failed 2004 election campaign.  [But you digress – Ed].

Nancy just loved Mark Latham’s performance on the Paul Murray Live program last Monday – which was presented by Jeanne Perrett.  The Lair of Liverpool was joined on the panel by Peter  (“Look at my bright red bandanna”) FitzSimons. In a rant-to-camera, Mark Latham:

▪ declared that “journalists have got all their children, mostly, at schools like Kings”.  (Latham provided no evidence for this assertion). The Kings School in Parramatta is one of the most expensive private schools in Australia.

▪ alleged that “20-30 years ago” Tony Abbott “was charged with defacing public property and arrested for sexual assault”. (Latham provided no evidence for the first claim and failed to reveal that Abbott had been found not guilty by a court with respect to a claim that he had touched a female on the back) by the way, the alleged charge was indecent – not sexual – assault.

▪ asserted that Air Chief Marshall (Retd) Angus Houston was “responsible” for “sexual abuse in the military” in that he “let it run”.  (Latham provided no evidence for this defamatory allegation).

It’s a wonder that the very able team at Sky News tolerate Mark Latham’s wilfully false allegations on such programs as Paul Murray Live.  Perhaps they felt the need to help out a house husband who only receives a lousy $78,000 yearly (fully indexed) from the taxpayer.

But the highlight of the Lair of Liverpool’s performance occurred when he labelled all critics of Julia Gillard’s role as solicitor at Slater & Gordon in the early 1990s as “Brucers” – meaning people who associated the Prime Minister with the alleged improper behaviour of her one-time boyfriend, former AWU organiser Bruce Wilson.   He ran the same line in his Australian Financial Review column the following day. The term “Brucer” is a play on the “Birther” description of those Americans who claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.  Let’s go to the video tape:

Mark Latham : Well, this allegation was first raised in the Victorian Parliament 17 years ago. And, it gained new life by one of the characters who used to sit here, Mike Smith, who on 2UE sort of got lucky. Craig Thomson went on his program and was ill-advised to be on there answering questions.  And Smith thought, you know, in the great tradition of Woodward and Bernstein, that: “I’ve got Craig Thomson, I”m moving on now for the big fish”. And ever since, the last 12 months, Smith, who was sacked by 2UE for various offences, has been dedicating his life fanatically with these Bruces, these nutters, to try and resurrect these allegations from 17 years ago in the Victorian Parliament, to give them new life. And, it really it is the Woodward and Bernstein syndrome, with people who think they can bring down governments without a shred of evidence….

Mark Latham : This suggestion that somehow Gillard’s going to sue [Larry] Pickering is just part of the nutters and the Brucer mentality on this. The people are loops. Well, this is the Lunar Right saying these things, and, and.   Can I just make a point about today’s proceedings down in Canberra? Because the real test of the substance of this rubbish was what the Liberal Party did about it today, which was nothing. They didn’t ask any questions in Question Time, no backbenchers making speeches under privilege…. And I’ve just been listening to Andrew Bolt and Steven Price, two of the Brucers on Sydney radio, who remarkably talk about this like it happened yesterday, not 20 years ago. This is part of the delusion…

So, on Monday 20 August 2012, Mark Latham described Andrew Bolt as a “Brucer” and “a nutter” who is suffering from “delusion”.  That’s pretty clear then.

However, in his “Lunch with The Financial Review” column on 4-5 August 2012, Mark Latham wrote of his “respect” for Andrew Bolt and commented :

He [Bolt] focuses relentlessly on argument and the use of supporting statistics and qualifications.  It is a long while since this man has lost a debate.  (See MWD Issue 149).

One of the debates which Bolt had engaged in in recent times turns on Julia Gillard’s performance at Slater & Gordon in the early 1990s. How about that? In early August 2012 Mark Latham described Andrew Bolt as a commentator with a “bespoke way of thinking about the political spectrum”.  Yet, just a couple of weeks later, Latham described Bolt as a loopy, delusional nutter.

Step forward Mark Latham – surely the most inconsistent commentator in contemporary Australia.

[I note that Mark Latham is using the term “Lunar Right”, which was one of Gerard Henderson’s inventions.  I assume that you know what is said about imitation and flattery and all that? – Ed].



According to ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott, it’s okay for employees of the taxpayer funded broadcaster to be both impartial presenters and opinionated commentators – provided they do it on different programs.  How about that?  Apparently nice Mr Scott believes that a broadcaster’s opinions do not influence how they approach their role as presenters. Really.

Well, here is an example of Radio National Breakfast presenter Fran Kelly – in her opinionated commentator moment.  The presentation is timely since Ms Kelly is about to go on an eight week well-earned-break. Here’s a reminder of Fran Kelly the activist barracker – as she packs her bags for Europe.

▪ Fran Kelly Bags Tony Abbott on Asylum Seekers – Insiders 19 August 2012

Fran Kelly: I t